Loire wines – great for spring drinking………..
The Loire Valley can be compared to the New Zealand wine region of Marlborough at least in terms of its wines as Sauvignon Blanc is the predominant grape variety grown with success in both regions. In the Loire Valley this is the grape used in Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Touraine and Quincy to name but a few of the renowned areas. However, there is far more to the range of wines grown in both areas than just Sauvignon Blanc and in the Loire Valley the lovely fresh notes of both red and white wines make them great for spring drinking.
Starting at the mouth of the Loire River at Nantes there are delicious wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape in Muscadet de Sevre et Mains sur lie make a delightful Muscadet with crisp fruity notes with lime on the nose and pear and apple on the palate. Muscadet has made a successful comeback after the supermarkets drove down the price and thus the quality of these crisp wines that are ideal with the local fish dishes. A review and renewal of the wine making laws of the appellation has resulted in some delicious wines that have reverted to the original wines of the region with character especially the sur lie wines as the Domaine de Presbyteres Muscadet sur lie.
Moving east and inland is the region of Anjou and Saumur the latter being renowned for great quality sparkling wines from the Chenin Blanc grape, also Savennieres where delicious Chenin based wines were traditionally sweet or demi-sec also known as moelleux but are currently mostly dry. Vouvray is another region renowned for its Chenin Blanc based wines that range from appley and bone dry through demi-sec such as Les Coteaux Tufiers to unctuous complex dessert wines such as Clos de Nouys with great longevity and aging potential due to the natural grape acidity present in the wines. Many dry Vouvrays have a lovely refreshing appley fruit note that finish with a softer hint of honey giving a hint of what might develop over time.
Bonnezeaux, Chaume and Coteaux du Layon are also dessert wine producing Loire regions where the fruit may often be afflicted by noble rot producing the delightful hint of vegetal nuttiness amongst the aromas of these delightful complex yet refreshing dessert wines. These wines are fabulous with fruit puddings especially those with apples and berries as they have a light balancing acidity to match the crisp fruits.
Saumur is also a red wine area making wines in the Saumur Champigny appellation mainly from Cabernet Franc that gain in rich softer fruit notes over time making them very appealing indeed with roast meats and vegetable dishes. Such a shame that not many are found this side of the channel.
East of Saumur and Vouvray is the predominantly red wine producing region of Bourgeuil, St Nicholas de Bourgeuil and Chinon and here Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet Franc are grown and which in good years produce exceptional vibrant fleshy reds with a thread of acidity that lifts the red berry fruit notes. However, due to its northern location many of the reds are lean and mean in cold years so it’s a often a bit hit and miss when seeking good wines. However, Sauvion, a long-established Loire producer has vineyards with a predominantly south facing aspect ensuring as much ripeness as possible ensuring that the Sauvion Chinon Dilection often has a more mouthfilling texture and flavour than its peers in most vintages.
Why not seek them out and try for yourself with Easter lamb and chicken dishes.